Kenmare and District Garden Club

In May the club enjoyed a much anticipated trip to Annesgrove gardens in Castletownroche. We were privileged to have a conducted tour by Neil Porteous, previously of the National Trust Mount Stewart garden in N.I., who has overseen the impressive renovation of the gardens for the OPW for the past four years. His tour and very comprehensive talk covered the history of the house that has been in the ownership of the Annesley family since 1600 and the incredible collection of plants of horticultural interest, featuring a historic collection of rhododendrons at their flowering peak in May. Thanks are due to Neil for this unique treat!
The June meeting was held in the Gateway, Kenmare. The club was in for another treat when Alan Power, until very recently head gardener of Derreen Garden, delighted us with a talk about his ‘journey in horticulture’, and what a journey! From early family influences in Cork and then studying horticulture, to working in Mt. Stewart and Stourhead where he discovered his great interest in historic gardens which continues to this day. He eventually returned to Stourhead in 1996 as arborist, where he remained for the next 24 years, whilst still being ‘hands on’ in other historic gardens of renown. The move to Kerry was a change of direction, and he was also attracted to Derreen garden as a prime example of the landscape movement, which was a complete contrast to the previous formality prevalent in garden design at the time, for example, Versailles in Frances. It’s luxuriously planted pathways utilise the stunning views of the Irish Landscape and also reflect the then owner’s, Lord Lansdowne’s travels to India and beyond. In conclusion, Alan said he wanted ‘ to give Derreen back to its place in gardening history and put it back in the premier league, unpicking its uniqueness’: this he had surely started to do, with the support of his wife Louise, during his brief stay in Ireland. The club wishes him every success in his new venture with the National Trust, England.
This was the last meeting in the Gateway until September 1st, when the club looks forward to starting the season with a return visit by Carl Wright of Caher Bridge Garden, Ballyvaughan. New members are very welcome. Contact Stephen Austen on 087 9112876 for further information.